You may know Synaptics as the manufacturer of the touchpad on your laptop or the fingerprint sensor used to access employees-only areas in the office, but they are also one of the largest manufacturers of fingerprint sensors for smartphones. In creating these, Synaptics utilizes two proprietary technologies; SentryPoint Security, and Natural ID. Synaptics-made fingerprint sensors have long found their way into smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the form of small variants of the Natural ID lineup. In a press release sent out on Tuesday, Synaptics announced that the third generation of their Natural ID sensors meant for small devices like smartphones and tablets is in testing and sampling.
The new sensor is the smallest one yet, measuring only 6 x 6 millimeters square in two dimensions, and being more than thin enough to put just about anywhere in a phone. The new sensor has a special feature up its sleeve that sets it apart from others in its space; it can work under glass. Specifically, the new FS4500 can work under glass and ceramic buttons, like the home buttons found on iPhones and Samsung devices, as well as underneath up to 300um of cover glass. While this flagship feature will undoubtedly help the new sensor find its way into a huge variety of devices that are increasingly thin and uniquely designed, that's not all that the sensor has to offer.
Among all the hype for the sensor's ability to work well under glass, it also sports a fairly wide set of more conventional features. It uses a single-voltage power supply, can be used to navigate and control soft keys as assigned by the manufacturer, uses fully secured communication between the sensor and its host device, and even boasts a USB interface, making it one of the easiest sensors out there to integrate in everything from smartphones to PCs. The newest entry in the Natural ID lineup will be stepping into shoes that have sold 300 million units thus far over the life of the family, and is expected to enter mass production in the fourth quarter of the year. This means that you can expect to see devices begin featuring it as soon as the first quarter of 2017.